Open Access Research article

Analyses of amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) indicate rapid radiation of Diospyros species (Ebenaceae) endemic to New Caledonia

Barbara Turner1*, Ovidiu Paun1, Jérôme Munzinger2, Sutee Duangjai3, Mark W Chase45 and Rosabelle Samuel1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Faculty of Life Sciences, University Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Wien, Austria

2 IRD, UMR AMAP, TA A51/PS2, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France

3 Department of Forest Biology, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand

4 Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3DS, UK

5 School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:269  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-269

Published: 12 December 2013

Abstract

Background

Radiation in some plant groups has occurred on islands and due to the characteristic rapid pace of phenotypic evolution, standard molecular markers often provide insufficient variation for phylogenetic reconstruction. To resolve relationships within a clade of 21 closely related New Caledonian Diospyros species and evaluate species boundaries we analysed genome-wide DNA variation via amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP).

Results

A neighbour-joining (NJ) dendrogram based on Dice distances shows all species except D. minimifolia, D. parviflora and D. vieillardii to form unique clusters of genetically similar accessions. However, there was little variation between these species clusters, resulting in unresolved species relationships and a star-like general NJ topology. Correspondingly, analyses of molecular variance showed more variation within species than between them. A Bayesian analysis with BEAST produced a similar result. Another Bayesian method, this time a clustering method, STRUCTURE, demonstrated the presence of two groups, highly congruent with those observed in a principal coordinate analysis (PCO). Molecular divergence between the two groups is low and does not correspond to any hypothesised taxonomic, ecological or geographical patterns.

Conclusions

We hypothesise that such a pattern could have been produced by rapid and complex evolution involving a widespread progenitor for which an initial split into two groups was followed by subsequent fragmentation into many diverging populations, which was followed by range expansion of then divergent entities. Overall, this process resulted in an opportunistic pattern of phenotypic diversification. The time since divergence was probably insufficient for some species to become genetically well-differentiated, resulting in progenitor/derivative relationships being exhibited in a few cases. In other cases, our analyses may have revealed evidence for the existence of cryptic species, for which more study of morphology and ecology are now required.

Keywords:
Cryptic species; Island flora; Morphological diversification; Progenitor/derivative relationships; Species radiation; Woody plants